Fox News host Eric Bolling filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit Wednesday against a freelance journalist who reported that Bolling had sent lewd texts to female colleagues at the network.
Yashar Ali wrote in HuffPost last week that Bolling, co-host of the weekday program “The Fox News Specialists,” had texted an unsolicited photo of male genitalia to at least two co-workers at Fox Business and one at Fox News. Citing a dozen anonymous sources, Ali reported that Bolling had sent the messages several years ago on separate occasions and that four people other than the recipients had seen the photo.
Fox said in a statement on Saturday that it had suspended Bolling from the network “pending the results of an investigation, which is currently underway.”
In a summons filed Wednesday in New York state court, Bolling accused Ali of trying to damage his reputation through “highly reckless publication of actionable false and misleading statements about the plaintiff’s conduct and character.”
“As a result of the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff has been substantially harmed,” the summons read.
HuffPost was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Bolling, 54, is being represented by the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, whose founder, Marc E. Kasowitz, is a longtime personal lawyer for President Trump. Until recently, he had a lead role on the legal team representing Trump in the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Bolling’s attorney, Michael J. Bowe, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment late Wednesday. He addressed the allegations in Ali’s story in a statement last week, saying: “Mr. Bolling recalls no such inappropriate communications, does not believe he sent any such communications, and will vigorously pursue his legal remedies for any false and defamatory accusations that are made.”
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Bolling thanked his supporters and said he would “continue to fight against these false smear attacks.”
I will continue to fight against these false smear attacks! THANK YOU FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT
— Eric Bolling (@ericbolling) August 9, 2017
Ali, who also writes for New York magazine and the Daily Beast, acknowledged Bolling’s lawsuit and defended his article in a series of tweets Wednesday evening.
“I stand by my reporting and will protect my sources,” Ali said. “Not going to stop reporting on Eric Bolling or anyone else.”
Just received a summons. Eric Bolling is suing me for defamation – $50 million in damages. I stand by my reporting + will protect my sources
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 9, 2017
Not going to stop reporting on Eric Bolling or anyone else. I've had family members killed/jailed in Iran, a lawsuit isn't going to scare me https://t.co/nvludsIV87
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 9, 2017
Fox News has been consumed by allegations of sexual misconduct against several of its male employees since last summer, when former “Fox & Friends” host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing the network’s late founder Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. Ailes was forced out of his role as chairman and settled with Carlson for $20 million shortly after.
The lawsuit ushered in a wave of complaints from women at the network accusing male Fox executives and anchors of sexually inappropriate behavior. Among them was longtime conservative star Bill O’Reilly, who was ousted from Fox earlier this year after the New York Times revealed that he had settled sexual harassment claims with five women over the past 15 years.
In early July, longtime Fox Business Network host Charles Payne was suspended after a frequent guest on the network accused him of sexual harassment. The Los Angeles Times, citing anonymous sources, reported that the unidentified woman told Fox’s outside lawyers that she was coerced into a sexual relationship with him, then blackballed from the network when she tried to end it. Payne has denied wrongdoing.
Bolling, a former commodities trader and financial adviser, joined Fox in 2007. In addition to hosting “The Fox News Specialists,” he anchors the business analysis program “Cashin’ In.” He was one of several Fox personalities under consideration for roles in the Trump administration, at one point discussing a possible position in the Department of Commerce, as Politico’s Hadas Gold reported. In June, he told NJ.com that he was mulling a run for office, saying, “When the lights go down on my TV career, the next step is running for Senate.”
In his article for HuffPost, Ali noted that Bolling had mercilessly criticized former congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) after he became embroiled in a sexting controversy starting in 2013. When Weiner pleaded guilty earlier this year to sending obscene material to an underage girl, Bolling said he was a “sick human being, to continue to do this time and time again.”
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